People are starting to fight back against Extinction Rebellion and it’s glorious
Perhaps, for some, it started when they couldn’t get to work on time because a bunch of people in crazy costumes were blocking a street, or bridge, or access to a building. For others, the lightbulb may have appeared over their heads when one of the movement’s leaders appeared on BBC’s The Andrew Neil Show and didn’t quite seem to know what she was talking about. But the tide of public perception is finally turning in the case of Extinction Rebellion, the interventionist organization whose tactics include dressing up in handmaid’s outfits, performing an interpretive dance, and super-gluing themselves to the pavement.
Much of the media-driven world has been taken in by the alarmism that spreads from Extinction Rebellion. They have that “right side of history” vibe though half of what they say is wrong. Even the great Margaret Atwood, a woman who is not easily duped, managed to get caught up in the panic to the point where she wore their logo as fashion while accepting her recent Booker Prize.
The gestures of Extinction Rebellion are undoubtedly upper middle class— with elaborate costumes, the scintillating sparkle of youth, and ability to take time off from work or school without any apparent consequences. Probably some universities offer extra credits for protest attendance.
But there is one united group of people who seem to have had enough of the antics of alarmism from these well-funded upstart activists—people who actually work for a living. Workers throughout the world have made it plain that they are sick to the back teeth of being late or missing work entirely because a bunch of kids want to play on the train tracks.
What eco-radicals like Extinction Rebellion fail to realize is that the optics are all wrong. For a generation steeped in marketing and branding, they should know better than to make people’s lives materially worse while they keep telling them their lives are going to be materially worse if they don’t take precautions for the impending catastrophe. And the ask that Extinction Rebellion is making is huge.
It’s not the standard eco-warrior wail of “do the little things you can, pick up trash, recycle, take the stairs, turn off lights, shut the water when you’re brushing your teeth, ride your bike, reuse, repurpose, recycle.” No. It’s basically “Stop everything you’re doing or we’re all gonna die! Don’t fly on airplanes. No more commuting. Eat bugs. Also, We’re better than you.” That’s just not super helpful, and the more time goes by where, in fact, we don’t all succumb to the fumes of the burning Amazon, the more no one will believe them or have time for this life-disrupting nonsense.
Claims made by the Extinction Rebellion bely their underlying cause. It’s not just that they want human progress under power of fossil fuels to grind to a halt, they want us all to feel super badly about ourselves. When we fly in planes, whether to visit our grans out on the opposing coast or simply to vacation, Extinction Rebellion wants us to feel guilty for that. When we drive our cars, load up on gas? Same. Shame. Even babies, the procreation of the species, is something this extremist environmentalist group can’t get behind.
The cause of environmental action has a certain nobility about it, but it has to be balanced with the needs of the global population, and the push for further technological progress. Humanity is not going to move forward and find the next great new energy source if instead of pressing forward we sit on our hands and hope that if we just hold our breath for long enough the earth will get better all around us. Being alive just doesn’t work like that.
The more Extinction Rebellion gets in the way of regular people working hard and trying to live their lives, the more irrelevant they will become.
That’s why it’s so heartening to see London commuters take no guff off these protesters who are determined to make getting to work even worse. Now, if they would only try it in New York.
Earlier this week, press organizations worldwide, The Post Millennial included, reported thousands of scientists had signed a letter declaring a climate emergency.
Time is running out, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
The original statement published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference involved collaborative work by dozens of scientists and was endorsed by the roughly 11,258 from 153 nations.
That number of endorsers has now been reduced, after a public outcry regarding fake names, including Micky Mouse and Albus Dumbledore appearing on the list.
While fake names are worrying, the list didn’t stop there, it also included a naturopath, a hypnotist, a commercial business analyst, a psychologist, and an industrial designer, all individuals who wouldn’t normally be categorized as scientists.
The original report has since been updated to remove a total of 34 “invalid” names.
11,0000 scientists from around the world have co-signed a letter declaring a “global climate emergency.”
They have warned of “untold human suffering” if we don’t make huge shifts in the way we live.
“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have continued to conduct business as usual and have failed to address this crisis,” said William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University, who lead the letter signing.
“Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected,” according to the letter published in BioScience.
The scientists claim they have a moral obligation to “clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat” and “tell it like it is.”
According to the Independent, rising meat consumption, more air travel, excessive deforestation and an increase in global carbon dioxide emissions are making the situation worse.
Scientists say a huge systemic change is needed, which they outline with six points in their letter: replacing fossil fuels; cutting pollutants like methane and soot; restoring and protecting ecosystems; eating less meat; converting the economy to one that is carbon-free and stabilizing population growth.
The scientists say that despite the dark outlook there is room for hope.
“We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations,” they write.
In 2011, London’s National Theatre mounted a play, The Heretic, by Richard Bean, that had the hot topic of climate change as its driving theme. His protagonist is a respected academic in the earth sciences department of a Yorkshire university, Dr. Diane Cassell. Her specialty is the measurement of sea levels in the Maldives.
Can you already see where this is going? Bet you can, and you’re right. Her scientific objectivity compels her to report the truth (and it is the truth): that in violation of all alarmist predictions that the Maldives would be completely underwater, sea levels in the Maldives have not in fact risen by more than the annual norm of a few millimetres in 20 years. In fact, new seaside resorts are being built in the Maldives as I write.
All hell breaks loose. Dr. Cassell receives death threats from eco-activists, and she is suspended by her faculty boss. Such are the perils of the heterodox thinker in a world gripped by climate-change apocalypticism.
Canada’s own version of Dr. Haskell is real-life zoologist Susan Crockford, a specialist in polar bears and dog domestication, as well as a widely-respected expert in animal bone identification who has helped catalogue museum collections and assisted police in their forensic investigations. Crockford’s academic work is of a high enough standard that she has been published in the prestigious journal Science.
She was for 15 years an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Victoria (an unpaid position that allowed her to further her research), until—without explanation—her May renewal application was rejected by UVic’s Anthropology Department. The lack of a university affiliation will put paid to her ability to apply for research grants, so basically this could mean the end of her scholarly career.
Crockford announced the non-renewal along with background information attesting to what had up to then been a stellar career in research, on her Polar Bear Science blog, accusing officials at the university of bowing to “outside pressure” in their decision. According to journalist Donna Laframboise, who wrote an article on the story for the National Post, her diligent pursuit of explanations was stonewalled by UVic. A UVic spokesman declined to say, for example, how many people were on the rejection committee or how many of them were zoologists who could make an informed decision on her competency.
The UVic expulsion follows on the heels of Crockford’s previous expulsion from the UVic Speakers Bureau, which sends out volunteer speakers drawn from faculty, graduate students and retirees. They speak on diverse topics, including climate change. For almost a decade, the Bureau had arranged for her to give unpaid talks to elementary and high school students, as well as adult community groups. One of her talks was titled Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change.
But in 2017, she was told that from then on, a policy change required that the Anthropology Department chair needed to confirm that Crockford was “able to represent the university” when discussing her topics, a requirement that up to then had never before been brought up as a speaker’s obligation. (Hang on to that phrase, I’ll be returning to it in my wrap-up.)
There seems to be little doubt that Crockford’s apparent crime is climate heresy of the kind that scuppered the fictitious Dr. Haskell’s career. She shattered a myth that is deeply beloved by the Gaia religion’s climate-alarmist clerisy, in reporting the truthful information that polar bear populations are not plummeting as a result of shrinking Arctic ice. In fact, polar bear numbers are stable and even rising. As Greta Thunberg might say to Dr. Crockford, How Dare You? How dare Crockford tell this inconvenient truth, and render useless what has been the darling poster child for Doomsday-inclined warmists.
Really, dying polar bears have had a formidable grip on the public’s imagination. They are awesome creatures, in actuality capable of great ferocity, so not the cuddly creatures suggested by Coke ads, but since they are powerful symbols of extreme-cold endurance, and unique in their coloration and habitat, they are justifiably beloved national symbols. It would truly be a great tragedy if they were at risk of extinction. So one can see why they are catnip to climate-change warriors, and why the sky is the limit to the eco-warrior imagination in exploiting them for their political agenda.
Speaking of the sky being the limit, in 2009, a pollution activism group called Plane Stupid launched a graphic cinema campaign to illuminate the impact of carbon emissions, in which dozens of extremely realistic-looking CGI polar bears fall from the sky to their death, spurting “blood” as they careen off buildings and smash into car roofs with a great wincemaking thump, as an airplane whines ominously overhead. Plane Stupid said the ad was inspired by the fact the 400kg of carbon produced by the average European flight is the same weight as the average polar bear. England’s advertising regulator was not amused.
In 2011, polar bears were referenced in the above-mentioned play, The Heretic. Dr. Cassell says at one point: “This generation are disaster junkies. … Every day they wake craving a narrative fix. When they see a photograph of a polar bear, hitching a lift on a passing ice floe, they cannot see an animal at ease in its natural habitat. What they see is the last five minutes of Titanic!”
Well put. When Crockford was delivering her truthful polar bear shpiels to elementary school students, she says she was repeatedly “astonished to learn that every single teacher believed that only a few hundred to a few thousand polar bears were left.” Such widespread indoctrination-fuelled ignorance gave Crockford additional motivation as a scientist to speak up and inform both students and teachers that the global population of polar bears is estimated as 22,000 to 31,000 and may even be quite a bit higher.
Polar bears are adaptive and well able to withstand changes in their Arctic environment, she tells her audiences. The ability to “adapt” to changing climatic conditions is of course very triggering to the alarmist clerisy, who know that any comforting truth offered to hoi polloi that takes the edge off climate-change panic makes their task of terror-mongering that much harder.
It’s one thing to cut loose an academic who doesn’t toe the party line on climate change predictions—let’s say someone on the faculty who is convinced we’re going to enter a cooling cycle very soon, and we should be preparing for adaptation to a colder world. It would still be wrong to censure that researcher if he or she was working from a reasonable hypothesis that could neither be proved nor disproved, it would be somewhat understandable that the university wanted to present a united face to the world on what it considers the received wisdom, even though projections of drastic warming due to anthropogenic forcing is also a hypothesis, not a fact. But never mind. Let’s stipulate that the latter hypothesis is what “represents the university.”
But Dr. Crockford is not disputing the hypothesis of global warming nor the role of humans in causing it. All she is saying is that even if the Arctic is getting warmer, the prediction that warming would have a disastrous effect on polar bears was not borne out. The polar bears are there and doing fine. We are way beyond hypothesis territory here and into bloody factual reality. The polar bears are there. You can go up north and see them if you want. Nevertheless, UVic is by all appearances saying to an honest authority on her subject, your bloody facts don’t interest us, because they don’t “represent the university.”
If a UVic can claim that demonstrable reality uncovered by bona fide methodology does not “represent” it, then UVic has effectively declared itself a religious institution, no different in principle than the Jehovah’s Witnesses that “shun” members of their faith who challenge a core doctrine. They are prepared—no, they apparently actually want—to have little kids sobbing into their pillows at night over the allegedly disappearing polar bears, and they want elementary school teachers to keep on drilling that myth into their vulnerable little heads, for ideological reasons alone. The conclusion they are chivvying us toward is that the prohibition of proven truth and the promotion of faith-driven lies is in fact what “represents the university.”
The shunning of Susan Crockford has all the earmarks of an intellectual scandal and an institutional disgrace. Unless they have some hitherto suppressed information proving that Crockford is morally unfit to continue as a member of the UVic community, UVic should reinstate her forthwith as adjunct professor, and as a member in good standing of its Speakers Bureau, along with an apology for their error of judgment.
Then they should publicly state that they understand the polar bears are doing well—and that’s okay. Then they should go about their business and let all their academics go about theirs—free from surveillance by the Thought Police—to uncover the facts as they find them and to share them with the world, a process that is—when not impeded by popular delusions and the madness of crowds—the scientific norm.
Polls show that people are a lot more concerned about climate change than they used to be. But are they responding to actual evidence of climate change, or the constant harangues at them by Chicken Little politicians and cultural influencers desperate to prove their Gaia-reverent, politically correct credentials?
My own skepticism is buttressed when, for example, I see the Obama family purchasing a $15 million home on Martha’s Vineyard, a short walk from the beach. Obama is a huge climate alarmist. Does he or doesn’t he believe that sea levels are rising at a hugely accelerated rate because of climate change?
And if he does, why is he paying top dollar to get it? Shouldn’t it be a buyer’s market, if all the well-educated, sincerely environmentally-conscious people who own homes there believe the “consensus” view of a multiple-foot rise within 50-80 years, which would effectively finish off posh islands like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket? In normal crises affecting threatened regions, real estate prices tumble. Instead, coastal property prices everywhere are stable or rising.
In another, much more convincing sign of the gap between rhetoric and action, the Government Accountability Institute undertook a yearlong study of 40 coastal cities, such as New York and New Orleans and San Francisco, whose waterfront areas and historic neighbourhoods would be severely affected or lost by rising oceans, and whose political leaders publicly concur with the alarmist narrative.
The question the researchers sought to answer was: “[W]hen [politicians] authorize selling municipal bonds to pay for local development, do they mention any of these risks to investors?” Financial officials—unlike party leaders on campaign trails—are legally obligated to disclose all significant risks to the value of the bonds.
The researchers found that the risk of the city being swamped by ocean water was all too often not disclosed. The study looked at 100 bond issues, mostly of the GO type (General Obligation)—that is, not specifically tied to one particular revenue source, but priced and issued based on the future economic prospects of the city’s overall tax base. They chose 100 of these issuances for 20 high-risk coastal cities, and also 100 issuances for 20 low-risk inland cities such as Chicago and Kansas City.
Greater risk is supposed to produce a higher bond interest rate, or “coupon rate.” The average bond maturity for the at-risk sample was 17.95 years; for the no-risk sample it was 17.09 years. Seventeen years from now—2036— sea level rise should, according to alarmists, be producing consequences for coastal cities that should affect the risk of these bonds, which should, therefore, be returning a significantly higher rate of interest.
The study also examined the official statements concerning each bond issue. “These documents are issued by the city and its agents to explain the purposes and risk factors of the bonds and describe the city’s financial outlook, future prospects” and so forth.
But after compiling the 200 bond issuances, the study found “no statistically significant difference between the coupon rate offered by at-risk cities and the coupon rates for the no-risk cities.”
This does not square at all with previous pronouncements of politicians in coastal cities. New York’s Bill de Blasio, for example, has said climate change is a “dagger aimed straight at the heart” of his city. In statements of claim against ExxonMobil, Chevron and other oil companies by the City of Oakland, the City of San Francisco and San Mateo County, the plaintiffs stated that the threats of rising sea levels were so ominous that “by 2050, a ‘100-year flood’ in the Oakland vicinity is expected to occur…and by 2100…once per week.” These floods would threaten Oakland’s sewer system and property and might cost the city as much as $38 billion dollars to manage.
But lo! In their risk statement to investors, New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey include only passing references to climate change or sea levels. And Oakland’s 2017 bonds document states, “The City is unable to predict when seismic events, fires or other natural events, such as sea rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm, could occur, when they may occur, and, if any such events occur, whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the City or the local economy.”
San Mateo County offers a similar scenario, and similar wording in its statement, as did Boston, San Francisco, Marin County and the City of Imperial Beach. The cities of Miami and Boston both have mayors that invoke the menace of climate change to their cities when they are seeking grants from the federal government, but neither mayor took his alleged fears into consideration when issuing permits for flood-susceptible areas.
In fact, the study looked at 4,361 pages of official documents for the 20 at-risk cities, scanning for words like “sea-level rise,” “flood,” “climate change” and even “global warming.” They found fewer than 100 relevant mentions in all those pages and, in fact, “twelve of the cities did not mention any of the terms even once in such a context.”
The bottom line is that either truths are being concealed in the issuance of bonds in these cities—a very grave offence—or lies are being promulgated in the alarmist narratives spouted by the mayors when there is no price to pay for dishonesty, and grants from government or payouts from oil companies to be had for exaggerations. I know which scenario makes the most sense to me.